Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Triumphant: 2 Corinthians 2

In Summary:
Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he continues explaining why he has not yet made the trip back to Corinth. His primary explanation is that he did not want to come again under sorrowful conditions. It’s a sound reason: nobody likes sorrow and grumpiness when they visit people. (One could insert various passive-aggressive jabs about modern visits here, but let’s not.)

He then goes on to address the issue of restoring someone who has faced church discipline. While Paul does not explicitly state it, some have suggested that this should be applied to the specific case of 1 Corinthians 5. I am inclined to think that, instead, the Corinthians had overreacted to Paul’s instructions and gone after various people they thought had offended or bothered Paul, without contemplating the reality that the harm was to the body, not just to one member of it.

The response that Paul commands is this: the offender should be encouraged in their repentance and restored to the fellowship. And, for what it’s worth, any church discipline concept that does not have the view of restoration and embrace at the end in mind, isn’t worth doing. The purpose is not simply to isolate the sinner—it is to see restoration and renewal.

The rest of the chapter touches on where Paul has been, including the brief mention of Troas. It seems logical that this is a reference to Paul’s vision in Acts 16, and we see some additional details. He was in Troas and waiting for Titus, but could not wait any longer and went on to Macedonia out of obedience to the Spirit. Keep in mind, the chapter is partially addressing how and why some travel plans have to change. Here, Paul is pointing out that sometimes the ministry of the Word and the opportunity of open doors for the Gospel mean that one shifts plans. He was planning on traveling with Titus but had to go on without him—and possibly, go a different direction.

The Corinthians are being reminded that Paul’s first purpose is spreading the Gospel, wherever he has the open door for the work.

In Focus:
Focus in on 2 Corinthians 2:14 for a moment. Paul speaks of God leading us in triumph in Christ, and the image that would have come to mind is the Roman Era version of the “ticker-tape parade.” Victorious generals were celebrated with a “triumph,” a procession showing examples of their victory. Included in those examples would be the treasures captured from the enemy, captured enemy personnel (some headed to slavery, some to death), and liberated allies and citizens. This last group participates as part of the celebration, how they have been delivered from a terrible fate by the general being celebrated. It also, at times, included those from among the enemy who had surrendered in the early stages—those who recognized that standing against Rome was foolish.

If that is the image Paul wants to evoke, then the church at Corinth would be reminded that they are part of the liberated captives in the triumph. Their purpose is to celebrate their deliverer and show to others the benefits of having such a great general. 

In Practice:
Now, on to the heart of the matter: we, like the Corinthians, find ourselves in Christ’s triumph. We are either among those delivered or will, at some point, find ourselves among those condemned. That is the first application: surrender to the Great Lord of Lords, and be in His triumph.

Second, it is good for us to remember that it is His triumph, not ours or anyone else’s. We are to keep our eyes fixed on our Deliverer and realize that He rides alone. Others may have been involved, as the legionaries and centurions of Rome were for the triumphs of the day, but they are not celebrated at the triumph. It is for the general to reward them, later—

And so it is with the worship of the church and the worship of Christians. We celebrate the One who has saved us and trust Him to reward His faithful servants later. (Note: we still say thank you—but we do not transfer allegiance!) 

Third, it is important for us to recognize our two responsibilities: the first is, as said, to focus on the One who has delivered us. The second is to reflect to the watching crowds that He is worth following! The delivered ones would have spared no expense, no effort to draw the crowds to the worship of their deliverer…

What do we do about our Savior and Deliverer? Do we make sure that our worship of Him causes us to blend into the background and Him to stand out?

In Nerdiness:
1. The references to aroma would have connected not only to the triumph but also evoke the fragrant offerings of the Old Testament. But there was definitely aroma involved in the triumphs…after all, you cram that many people together before the invention of the shower, and I guarantee you’ll want all the incense you can stand.

2. It’s within the realm of possibility that Paul does not want to evoke the Roman triumph, but I think we need to be careful chasing more esoteric concepts. Paul didn’t write to people with tons of spare time to research what he was talking about. He wrote to people who lived in a specific place and time, and just like it’s a safe assumption that a letter to the Arkansans that referenced “football” meant “American football, where you carry a non-round object in your hand) and not “soccer,” though many other places use “football” for that sport where you kick (with your foot) a round ball. (Who knows why they don’t call it soccer?)

Likewise, the predominant culture would have informed Paul’s choice of imagery. Be careful in Biblical interpretation that you don’t try to outsmart the original audience. We all want to be smart, but oftentimes, the basic idea is obvious.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book: Ordering Your Private World

Today’s book was provided through Handlebar, and it’s a reprint/update of Gordon MacDonald’s book Ordering Your Private World.

It’s called: Ordering Your Private World (Revised and Updated).

What can I say? If you’ve got a good title, stick with it. I’m a guy who titles every book review as “Book: Title” and nothing much else.

Now, though, we need to talk about content. I daresay that most of us have challenges in our personal life, difficulties in keeping our inner turmoil under control. It is not merely that we lose ourselves into external chaos, but inside we are done for.

The problem? Our “private world,” who we are down inside and how we live it out, has no stability. That is the idea that Gordon MacDonald addresses in Ordering Your Private World. Now, this is the revised/updated version of a book first constructed in the 1980s, and so some of the ideas are directed at problems that were more evident in that decade. However, for those of us that think we’re “better than that,” may I point out that I’ve seen a few mullets of late and we’re seeing other signs of that decade returning. Our problems are cyclical.

Into this era, sometimes we think we need newer solutions, but if Christianity is true, then most of the right way to address the problems we face has remained the same for centuries. MacDonald, then, is not out to provide new solutions to new problems—he’s looking to connect what we may think are new problems to old problems, and point back to the ever-present solutions of Biblical life.

In that vein, I found MacDonald’s work excellent and helpful. First, his writing style is personal. Every principle he addresses, he speaks in the first person and details his own struggles with the matter. Obviously, he presents the issues as problems he has found some portion of the solution to, not those which remain completely unresolved. And, being a personal writing, he expresses what works for him. In some cases, it won’t work for others, but the principle can be considered and applied.

Second, I found MacDonald’s work to be practical and relevant. I read a good many books—some of them are neither practical nor relevant, and some practical but not relevant. (I’m finishing up one this week that deals with what one should before starting seminary. It’s practical…but a bit late for me, personally.) MacDonald, though, has worked through many of the classic spiritual disciplines and demonstrated how to work them into the every day of life.

In all, I found this a great read. While there are areas of application that I may differ with, in all I think that one’s walk with Christ will be strengthened by reading Ordering Your Private World. As Andy Andrews has said many times, “Experience is not the best teacher…other’s people’s experience is!”

Reading this will give you access to Gordon MacDonald’s experience. It’s worth it.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sermon Recap for Sept 24

Here is what you'll find: after each sermon title, there's an "audio" link that allows you to play or download that sermon's audio file. Then there should be an embedded Youtube Link to the sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Here we go:

Morning Sermon: 2 Timothy 4 (audio direct)

Evening Sermon: A bit of both Timothies, but a lot of 1 Timothy 3 (audio direct)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Yes Means Yes: 2 Corinthians 1

In Summary:
Paul writes again to the church in Corinth. He, along with Timothy, wants to address his ongoing concerns with the situation on the ground there, and so sends a second letter. You can imagine that he will not be as gentle about some issues as before, especially if he is dealing with the same ones again.

The first chapter moves quickly from the typical greeting and introduction into the meat of the matter. Paul is not working to establish communications here, as in Romans, or to remind of the time he had already spent, as in 1 Corinthians. 

His introduction here focuses on why he has not been to Corinth yet. Circumstances and situations have prevented Paul from visiting Corinth as he planned in 1 Corinthians 16, but he does not want them to consider him as unreliable because of that.

In Focus:
Let us take Paul’s response to the Corinthian charge of vacillating, saying both “yes” and “no.” He highlights, initially, his reasons for not getting there yet but then turns the conversation to something more important.

His turn, in 2 Corinthians 1:19-20, highlights that the answer in the Gospel is never “yes and no,” but always “yes.” The promises of God are a “yes,” that His grace will come through and meet the needs of His people. 

This is the message that was preached by Paul and Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy: the Gospel is a “YES,” that you can be forgiven by the grace of God, that reconciliation between God and humanity is possible.

In Practice:
Practically, then, let us first look to what John Chrysostom said in the fourth century, and keep everything that we say of what we believe as something that we will not “unsay.” Our faith should be solid, not having a wondering mind.

That means we should assert as definite only those things about which we may be absolutely certain. This is why, for example, one should preach clearly every week that Christ is Risen INDEED! and that He will return someday, for certain. Picking a date, though, is far from being of value to the family of faith. It does little but destroy one’s credibility in other matters.

Likewise, as we apply the Gospel to life, we must consider which areas we may absolute on. As the extension of this, I would argue that every parent is charged by God to see to the education of their children. That does not mean, though, that I would certainly demand every Christian homeschool their child (or use private Christian schools). One thing I think is certain, the other is a consideration.

Paul holds that his words are solid, as the Gospel is solid. We should be the same way.

In Nerdiness:
One area of debate in Pauline studies (Pauline studies=the study of the life and writings of Paul, or attributed to Paul, with the goal of determining what that history looks like and what theology it brings to the fore) is whether or not 1 and 2 Corinthians were originally perhaps more letters. Did Paul write to Corinth more than twice? Are there missing letters? Did his original 3 (or 4, or 5…) letters get composited into the 2 books of the Bible?

No matter how you slice that, Paul’s authorship is, to me, inescapable. His use of an amanuensis notwithstanding, it’s his letter.

That’s not really something in the scope of this blog post, but it’s a worthy investigation. Lean hard into a couple of good commentaries to wrestle with this. I’d grab the Baker Exegetical series on 1 & 2 Corinthians, the Pillar Series, Ben Witherington’s Socio-Rhetorical (for an additional viewpoint), and probably the New American Commentary. Some good commentaries are ones like the Preach the Word or the Teach the Text series, but these are more practically minded. If you’re teaching, start with those and work into the others.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sermon Recap for Sept 17 Evening

Well, yesterday the Internet wasn’t in the mood for allowing Sunday night’s service to be posted. So, not wanting to make you wait for Sunday morning, the sermon recap was broken into two parts. Here’s the second one.

For those of you who are not familiar with Baptist practices, we generally do not take the Lord’s Supper (or Communion) on a weekly basis. (Every Baptist church does things differently, but most of us have similar traditions.) When we do observe the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, we set the whole service aside and focus all of our attention on it. Some Baptist churches just kind of tag it on the end of a service, but I think the majority practice is to lock the whole time on it.

Now, it’s a valid discussion as to whether or not this most closely follows that which God has instructed in Scripture. In the absence of a hard and clear statement, though, we’re pretty tradition-guided. I’m inclined toward a more frequent observance, but some things are better left for later.

I’m going to give you the video first and then the audio. The audio isn’t quite as useful without some of the visual, after the first 20 minutes or so.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sermon Recap for September 17

Well, my brain tried to make this a sermon recap for November.

I’m not a prophet. There’s no way I can recap November yet. And along those lines…please disregard any of the latest nonsense of numerology and the end of the world. There’s just not clarity in Scripture about the end *except* that we won’t know it by day and hour. Seriously, folks, give it a rest.

And Newspeople: if you want to run nutty ideas for your religion page, please contact either me or any part of the team. We’ll be glad to be your go-to weirdos.

Here is what you'll find: after each sermon title, there's an "audio" link that allows you to play or download that sermon's audio file. Then there should be an embedded Youtube Link to the sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Morning Sermon: Colossians 1 (audio download)

Evening Sermon will get its own post tomorrow. I’m not sure what happened to the upload and I don’t want to go back to the video editing computer to figure it out tonight.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book: Destroyer of the Gods

Why am I not blogging enough? Ph.D. seminar writing. Like this, not a blog-style book review but a real attempt at an academic one.

Don't worry, I'll probably get booted back to the blogosphere soon enough.

Book purchased, not provided...

Destroyer of the Gods. By Larry W. Hurtado. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016. 290 pages. Hardcover. $29.95.

If one is able to start off life in Kansas City, Missouri, and then find his way to Scotland, not only for a visit but to work and retire there, then he must have either wisdom or great luck. Larry W. Hurtado, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrates through his achievements in research and publications that he has wisdom. Professor Hurtado is the author of several commentaries on the Gospel of Mark, multiple articles and essays regarding early Christian origins, and advocate for the study of the early Christian era. His work The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins encouraged the understanding of how the early copies of New Testament material were made, including the use of nomina sacra, as a look into the development of the church as a community and religious body.
His work in Christian origins is expanded on his blog, and even in his retirement, he continues to publish in this area. The background of Christian origins supports that his next work, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, will come from one who has researched the first centuries of Christianity as well as the Jewish religion of the time and the Roman religions of the time.
First, having reported the author’s qualifications to write on Christian origins, it is important to examine the contents of his book. Following the summary of the contents, Destroyer of the Gods (henceforth, Destroyer) will be considered in view of its value to the academic reader, the ministerial reader, and the general Christian reader. One important caveat should be made before continuing: Hurtado’s frame of reference is as a Christian believer. He is not attempting, in this work, to justify the existence of Christianity. His stated intent, per the Preface, is to examine the features of Christianity that made it distinctive in the first three centuries AD (p. xi.).
As a starting point, Destroyer holds 196 pages of primary content. The nearly 100 remaining pages are the endnotes and indices. Beginning at the end, Hurtado has split the indices into two parts, one for ancient sources and one for subjects and modern authors. He includes the Bible with the ancient sources section, with subsections for ancient Jewish, early Christian, and Roman Pagan sections. The second index section includes modern authors and subjects, and some ancient authors are also acknowledged as subjects, such as Ambrose or Socrates. The endnotes are not merely bibliographic but also explanatory and provide the reader with additional sources of evidence and areas to explore.
The meat of the work in Destroyer is placed in five chapters, with an introduction and conclusion surrounding them. The introduction sets forth the basic outline of the first three centuries of Christianity, beginning with the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Hurtado then tracks the expansion of Christianity, using a loose definition of Christianity as “the movement…with the figure of Jesus at its center (p. 197),” both numerically and geographically. He asserts that Christianity had become so prevalent and dominant in Roman society that Constantine’s official embrace of the religion was not the “triumph” of Christianity but rather an expedient move to adopt a belief system that was remarkably successful.
The five chapters of Destroyer look at individual aspects of what made Christianity distinctive. First, Hurtado examines how Jews and Pagans, using “Pagan” as the catch-all term for any of the Roman religions and philosophies, viewed the Christians. He cites Pliny, Tacitus, and Marcus Aurelius among his Pagans. His primary sources for Jewish comments on the Christian faith are found in the Christian New Testament, though Josephus is mentioned in passing. The next chapter delves into the definition of “religion,” and speaks to the cultural distance between the current era and the Roman world. This discussion alone is significantly valuable, delineating how Christians not only believed in something different than the majority of the Pagans of the time but that the manner of their belief system was fundamentally “other” as well. 
The third chapter contrasts the way the Christians viewed their religious and ethnic identity with the typical pattern of the time. Here, Hurtado reminds the reader that the ancient world did not separate “religion” from “ethnicity” or “heritage” in the same way modern Westerners do. However, he highlights that "Christian" became a new group, one which few in those first three centuries counted themselves as born into. Instead, their association with Christianity was across ethnic boundaries, creating a group that did not align with any internal (or external) borderlines. The fourth chapter contrasts the book-centered nature of early Christianity not only with Roman-era Paganism but also many other ancient religions. Hurtado notes that the idea of a religion centered on a specific set of holy writings is drawn primarily from Christianity. The final chapter highlights the behavioral expectations on Christians. These expectations stretched from private home lives into the public arena and the idea that Christians were expected to live consistent with their religious teachings rather than with the current culture brought the distinctiveness of Christianity into the forefront.
The conclusion notes that being aware of the distinctiveness of early Christianity in Pagan Rome should be both a guide and an encouragement to Christians in the modern era. Hurtado notes how the modern reader should be wary of carrying Christian presumptions into the examination of other religions and therefore misunderstand them. 
Now, in turning to the value of the book, first, its value to the academic community. Hurtado is one of the main scholars in the field of Christian origins, as evidenced by the starting point for Destroyer: it began from academic lectures and then took shape. The writing is concise and presupposes a knowledge of the ancient world. It is, therefore, a writing for advanced study and excels in that purpose. Hurtado highlights contrasts between philosophies and religions and leaves the reader with more to study and his endnotes provide jumping off points into those areas. He provides valuable insights for how Christianity stood apart from most of the Pagan world, enabling the academic to work this understanding into the framework of history and political development.
For the Christian minister, the book’s value diminishes somewhat. While the information remains useful, especially in contrast to some popular misrepresentations of early Christianity, the academic nature of the writing will challenge the minister who is too far removed from academic work. Further, Hurtado’s broad definition of “Christianity” may cause some of the more conservative readers to shy away from the remainder of this work. That would be unfortunate, as the work, properly understood, would equip the minister to refute several History Channel fallacious responses to Christianity.

Finally, for the general reader, the work of Destroyer may be a challenge. Without a baseline knowledge of Christian and Roman history, a reader may be lost as to the general development of thought. That general reader would do well to first take up an overview of Christian history before tackling this work, but after doing so would profit from the challenge of Destroyer of the Gods. Christianity is a “bookish” religion, as Hurtado advocates throughout chapter four, and this book is a worthwhile explanation of the effects of the faith.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Apostle Incoming: 1 Corinthians 16

In Summary:
1 Corinthians wraps up with the standard closing portions of a letter: the greetings sent to known colleagues and the information about the writer’s future plans. In this, Paul is fairly ordinary in his approach. He also follows the typical pattern of providing a brief closing statement. In this case, look at 1 Corinthians 16:21-24 as definitely written by Paul rather than by a scribe.

The rest of 1 Corinthians 16 is a combination of update and instruction. Paul is overseeing a collection for the “saints,” typically understood as believers in Jerusalem. One basic reason for the assumption about Jerusalem is that v. 3 reflects that he plans to send letters to Jerusalem with the collected gifts. That would make the destination obvious.

Alongside this, we also see some instructions about the taking of the collection and the way the church is urged to respond to Apollos and Timothy, who are both apparently traveling to proclaim the Gospel. Paul gives his travel plans, as well, including his desire to go through Macedonia and his plan to stay in Ephesus for a while. 

Another point that should be considered in summarizing this chapter is found in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. Here we have a clear point in Scripture where two verses must be taken together in their application. 13 speaks of being alert, standing firm, being strong, “acting like men,” all of which are calls to action. Calls to action like these, though, must be tempered in the right manner—v. 14 give it. All that is done must be done in love, not in celebration of the doer but in pursuit of the best of the beloved.

In Focus:
Let us take a moment, though, and focus on one of the overarching messages of this chapter: Paul is coming to Corinth. He mentions his impending visit throughout the book, and then in this chapter alone, he brings his trip up in six verses. It is clear that his goal is to come to see them.

Why is he coming? The whole of 1 Corinthians has spoken of Paul’s concern for the Corinthians and the church in Corinth. He wants to come and check out everything, to try and correct the problems that are there.

In Practice:
With that in mind, I want to tell you a story about my time at UPS. (When I first started blogging, I still worked there so left them anonymous…obvious, but anonymous.) Our hub was due for a visit from one of the top executives from corporate—I believe it was the guy we expected would be the next CEO once the job was vacant. 

We prepared for his visit for several weeks. First of all, new coats of paint were applied in all sorts of places. Second, we stopped hiring folks for a couple of weeks. Third, we actually encouraged a few people to plan on taking that day off and arranged for other folks to cover their shifts. Oh, and all of us front-line supervisor types made sure our uniform shirts were nice and clean.

Why? Because we wanted everything to look good when the big boss came around, that’s why. It wouldn’t do for the CFO to see that some days, our shirts were dirty from box dust or see that people who haven’t worked very long at a job don’t do it very well. And it certainly wouldn’t have done for some out-of-the-way piping in a rarely-traveled area to not be bright yellow instead of dingy yellow. The appearances had to be right.

Never mind that his visit looked nothing like the everyday operations. We put on the show…and went right back to old habits after he was gone. (As a contrast, I also worked for a Chick-fil-A when the Cathy family meandered through the region and stopped by every Chick-fil-A. We did nothing different. Nothing. Well, we blocked off a couple of parking spaces for them.)

Paul has mentioned his visit to the Corinthians with the hope that they will not respond like we did at UPS—the goal is not for a one day spruce up and then a lapse into old habits. 

The goal for them, as it is with us, was to encourage them to live out the transformed life of the Gospel. Yes, he wanted the trash taken out and the broken things repaired: take a read back through 1 Corinthians and you’ll see what trash there was, what things were broken.

Our lives should follow suit: as the Spirit of God works in us, it is not intended that we slap on some fresh paint and give our sins a day off, only to bring them back later. We need to fix the broken things, carry out the trash, and then get on with doing what we should have been doing in the first place!

Let us live our lives in light of the reality that Paul is not coming anytime soon, church: Jesus is.

That’s a big deal.
In Nerdiness:
First, look at 1 Corinthians 16:15. Then look at 1 Corinthians 1:16. Notice a similarity? The household of Stephanas. Leads me to wonder if Paul updated 1:16 as he got to the end when Stephanas was on his mind.

We all want to take the Bible literally until 1 Corinthians 16:20. Then we want to wash it through the cultural grid, find the principle, and apply it within our own context. 

1 Corinthians 16:22 ends with “Marantha,” which means “O Lord, Come!” 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sermon Recap for September 10

Here is what you'll find: after each sermon title, there's an "audio" link that allows you to play or download that sermon's audio file. Then there should be an embedded Youtube Link to the sermon.

If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here:

The video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here:

Sermons are stockpiled here:


Morning Sermon:

Evening Sermon:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Really Resurrected: 1 Corinthians 15

In Summary:
I’m ecstatic to put the Spiritual Gifts chapters behind us and move into other matters. 1 Corinthians 15 has absolutely nothing controversial in it to deal with—well, there’s the verse about “baptizing for the dead,” and the misapplication of the euphemism of “sleep” for death which leads to the incorrect concept of “soul sleep” in death rather than the immediacy of judgment—oh, and there’s the references to how the end of all time breaks down with resurrections. No, nothing controversial.

Just some aspects that you’ll really need to grab a good Bible commentary on 1 Corinthians and do some research about it for yourself. I’d recommend the Teach the Text volume by Preben Vang and…well, actually, most of my 1 Corinthians resources are digital. At the very least, get a good Study Bible like the CSB Study Bible from Holman or the ESV Study Bible from Crossway. 

The bulk of the chapter, though, does walk through some very basic ideas. The side items are the idea of Paul among the apostles (v. 8-9), that Jesus will return before every believer dies (v. 51, also the theme verse for all church nurseries), and the listing of resurrection appearances of Jesus. The main dish? The centrality of the fact of Jesus’ Resurrection.

In Focus:
Rather than focus on one verse, since that idea is the focus of the chapter, we’ll take that as the focus of the blog post. First, Paul sets up the resurrection as the key to the Gospel which he preached in Corinth. He points out that Jesus died and was buried, and then draws out the description of the resurrection by naming witnesses. This includes surviving witnesses (v. 6), some of whom must have been known to the church.

Second, Paul then connects the resurrection’s reality to the hope of the church. If the resurrection isn’t real, then nothing else the church has come to believe has any value—it is all vain. And vain, used in the Bible, typically refers to empty and meaningless, pointless and wasteful, rather than just “self-absorbed" as we tend to use it.

Third, Paul roots the resurrection into reality with the witnesses he recounts. The clear purpose is to establish that Jesus was not raised like many of the mythic heroes of Greece and Rome, where they were “raised” and then placed in the stars or moved off to a far away land. Jesus was raised and then seen by the people who had known Him in the first place.

In Practice:
What does that mean for us?

First of all, the resurrection is not merely a doctrine to be held or debated. It is a fact to either be accepted or rejected. There is no “spiritual meaning” to be substituted or symbolism that overrides the facts of the matter. Jesus is really risen, or there is nothing else in Christianity of value. Nothing.

So make up your mind where you are on that. 

Second, though this may surprise some of you, there are those who think that the resurrection of Christ is actually optional. It’s not—so if you have a book that claims to talk of “good spirituality” but downplays the historicity of the Risen Christ, there’s a place for it: the trash. It is vain and empty—anything of value will be available elsewhere.

Third, keep the focus on the most important thing: Christ is Risen! Therefore, death is done for. Sin is atoned for, completely, and Jesus is no longer on the Cross but alive! That’s hopeful. Christianity is a religion of faith, hope, and love—and if we want to grow in our capacity for love, we need to cling to the hope of life in Christ!

In Nerdiness:
A few key nerd points:

1. 1 Corinthians 15:22 makes spiritualizing Adam (and, therein, Genesis 1-3) a bit difficult. If Adam doesn’t bring death in all, then the first half of this parallel statement is false—which means the second half is, too.

2. V. 32 references fighting “wild beasts” at Ephesus. Holman Commentary makes this symbolic, as do most others. It is feasible as a reality, not as a punishment but possibly a life situation if Paul was having to dwell in the wilder parts of the area.

3. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 would generate several great sermons. Bad company corrupts, stop sinning, be sober-minded. There’s plenty of action to be held there.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sermon Recap for September 3

Good Afternoon!

Here is the sermon from September 3.

Passage: Galatians 5:13-15
The indomitable churches of Galatia.
A letter of rebuke, correction—very direct, very harsh even.
Connect 5:13-15 with 19-26
Slavery to sin results in: sexual immorality, moral impurity (filth, uncleanness, vileness)
He that loves his neighbour as he ought, declines not to minister to him more humbly than any servant. As fire, brought into contact with wax, easily softens it, so does the warmth of love melt all arrogance and presumption more powerfully than fire. Wherefore he says not, “love one another,” merely, but, serve one another, thus signifying the intensity of the affection
S. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, and Homilies on the Epistle to the Ephesians, vol. VI, A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford; London: John Henry Parker; J. G. F. and J. Rivington, 1840), 81.

Sermon Recap for June 9 2024

 Good morning! Here is yesterday's sermon from Mt. Olive Baptist Church